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[waw-ter, wot-er] /ˈwɔ tər, ˈwɒt ər/
a transparent, odorless, tasteless liquid, a compound of hydrogen and oxygen, H 2 O, freezing at 32°F or 0°C and boiling at 212°F or 100°C, that in a more or less impure state constitutes rain, oceans, lakes, rivers, etc.: it contains 11.188 percent hydrogen and 88.812 percent oxygen, by weight.
a special form or variety of this liquid, as rain.
Often, waters. this liquid in an impure state as obtained from a mineral spring:
Last year we went to Marienbad for the waters.
the liquid content of a river, inlet, etc., with reference to its relative height, especially as dependent on tide:
a difference of 20 feet between high and low water.
the surface of a stream, river, lake, ocean, etc.:
above, below, or on the water.
  1. flowing water, or water moving in waves:
    The river's mighty waters.
  2. the sea or seas bordering a particular country or continent or located in a particular part of the world:
    We left San Diego and sailed south for Mexican waters.
a liquid solution or preparation, especially one used for cosmetic purposes:
lavender water; lemon water.
Often, waters. Medicine/Medical.
  1. amniotic fluid.
  2. the bag of waters; amnion:
    Her water broke at 2 a.m.
any of various solutions of volatile or gaseous substances in water:
ammonia water.
any liquid or aqueous organic secretion, exudation, humor, or the like, as tears, perspiration, or urine.
Finance. fictitious assets or the inflated values they give to the stock of a corporation.
a wavy, lustrous pattern or marking, as on silk fabrics or metal surfaces.
(formerly) the degree of transparency and brilliancy of a diamond or other precious stone.
take water, (of a boat) to allow water to enter through leaks or portholes or over the side.
verb (used with object)
to sprinkle, moisten, or drench with water:
to water the flowers; to water a street.
to supply (animals) with water for drinking.
to furnish with a supply of water, as a ship.
to furnish water to (a region), as by streams; supply (land) with water, as by irrigation:
The valley is watered by a branch of the Colorado River. Our land is watered by the All-American Canal.
to dilute, weaken, soften, or adulterate with, or as with, water (often followed by down):
to water soup; to water down an unfavorable report.
Finance. to issue or increase the par value of (shares of stock) without having the assets to warrant doing so (often followed by down).
to produce a wavy, lustrous pattern, marking, or finish on (fabrics, metals, etc.):
watered silk.
verb (used without object)
to discharge, fill with, or secrete water or liquid, as the eyes when irritated, or as the mouth at the sight or thought of tempting food.
to drink water, as an animal.
to take in a supply of water, as a ship:
Our ship will water at Savannah.
of or relating to water in any way:
a water journey.
holding, or designed to hold, water:
a water jug.
worked or powered by water:
a water turbine.
heating, pumping, or circulating water (often used in combination):
hot-water furnace; city waterworks.
used in or on water:
water skis.
containing or prepared with water, as for hardening or dilution:
water mortar.
located or occurring on, in, or by water:
water music; water frontage.
residing by or in, or ruling over, water:
water people; water deities.
above water, out of embarrassment or trouble, especially of a financial nature:
They had so many medical bills that they could hardly keep their heads above water.
break water,
  1. to break the surface of the water by emerging from it.
  2. Swimming. to break the surface of the water with the feet, especially in swimming the breaststroke doing the frog kick.
  3. Medicine/Medical. to break the amniotic sac prior to parturition.
by water, by ship or boat:
to send goods by water.
dead in the water. dead (def 41).
hold water,
  1. to be logical, defensible, or valid:
    That accusation won't hold water.
  2. to check the movement of a rowboat by keeping the oars steady with the blades vertical.
in deep water, in great distress or difficulty:
Their marriage has been in deep water for some time.
in hot water. hot water.
like water, lavishly; abundantly; freely:
The champagne flowed like water.
make one's mouth water, to excite a desire or appetite for something:
The roasting turkey made our mouths water.
make water,
  1. (of a boat) to allow water to enter; leak.
  2. to urinate.
tread water. tread (def 23).
Origin of water
before 900; (noun) Middle English; Old English wæter; cognate with Dutch water, German Wasser; akin to Old Norse vain, Gothic wato, Hittite watar, Greek hýdōr; (v.) Middle English wateren, Old English wæterian, derivative of the noun
Related forms
waterer, noun
waterless, adjective
waterlessly, adverb
waterlessness, noun
waterlike, adjective
outwater, verb (used with object)
overwater, verb
rewater, verb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for water down
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
British Dictionary definitions for water down

water down

verb (transitive, adverb)
to dilute or weaken with water
to modify or adulterate, esp so as to omit anything harsh, unpleasant, or offensive: to water down the truth
Derived Forms
watered-down, adjective


a clear colourless tasteless odourless liquid that is essential for plant and animal life and constitutes, in impure form, rain, oceans, rivers, lakes, etc. It is a neutral substance, an effective solvent for many compounds, and is used as a standard for many physical properties. Formula: H2O related adjective aqueous related combining_forms hydro- aqua-
  1. any body or area of this liquid, such as a sea, lake, river, etc
  2. (as modifier): water sports, water transport, a water plant, related adjective aquatic
the surface of such a body or area: fish swam below the water
any form or variety of this liquid, such as rain
any of various solutions of chemical substances in water: lithia water, ammonia water
  1. any fluid secreted from the body, such as sweat, urine, or tears
  2. (usually pl) the amniotic fluid surrounding a fetus in the womb
a wavy lustrous finish on some fabrics, esp silk
(archaic) the degree of brilliance in a diamond See also first water
excellence, quality, or degree (in the phrase of the first water)
  1. capital stock issued without a corresponding increase in paid-up capital, so that the book value of the company's capital is not fully represented by assets or earning power
  2. the fictitious or unrealistic asset entries that reflect such inflated book value of capital
(modifier) (astrology) of or relating to the three signs of the zodiac Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces Compare air (sense 20), earth (sense 10), fire (sense 24)
(informal) above the water, out of trouble or difficulty, esp financial trouble
hold water, to prove credible, logical, or consistent: the alibi did not hold water
in deep water, in trouble or difficulty
make water
  1. to urinate
  2. (of a boat, hull, etc) to let in water
pass water, to urinate
test the water, See test1 (sense 5)
(informal) throw cold water on, pour cold water on, to be unenthusiastic about or discourage
water under the bridge, events that are past and done with
(transitive) to sprinkle, moisten, or soak with water
(transitive) often foll by down. to weaken by the addition of water
(intransitive) (of the eyes) to fill with tears
(intransitive) (of the mouth) to salivate, esp in anticipation of food (esp in the phrase make one's mouth water)
(transitive) to irrigate or provide with water: to water the land, he watered the cattle
(intransitive) to drink water
(intransitive) (of a ship, etc) to take in a supply of water
(transitive) (finance) to raise the par value of (issued capital stock) without a corresponding increase in the real value of assets
(transitive) to produce a wavy lustrous finish on (fabrics, esp silk)
See also water down
Derived Forms
waterer, noun
waterish, adjective
waterless, adjective
water-like, adjective
Word Origin
Old English wæter, of Germanic origin; compare Old Saxon watar, Old High German wazzar, Gothic watō, Old Slavonic voda; related to Greek hudor
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for water down



Old English wæterian (see water (n.1)). Meaning "to dilute" is attested from late 14c.; now usually as water down (1850). To make water "urinate" is recorded from early 15c. Related: Watered; watering.



measure of quality of a diamond, c.1600, from water (n.1), perhaps as a translation of Arabic ma' "water," which also is used in the sense "lustre, splendor."



Old English wæter, from Proto-Germanic *watar (cf. Old Saxon watar, Old Frisian wetir, Dutch water, Old High German wazzar, German Wasser, Old Norse vatn, Gothic wato "water"), from PIE *wodor/*wedor/*uder-, from root *wed- (cf. Hittite watar, Sanskrit udrah, Greek hydor, Old Church Slavonic and Russian voda, Lithuanian vanduo, Old Prussian wundan, Gaelic uisge "water;" Latin unda "wave").

Linguists believe PIE had two root words for water: *ap- and *wed-. The first (preserved in Sanskrit apah) was "animate," referring to water as a living force; the latter referred to it as an inanimate substance. The same probably was true of fire (n.).

To keep (one's) head above water in the figurative sense is recorded from 1742. Water cooler is recorded from 1846; water polo from 1884; water torture from 1928. First record of water-closet is from 1755. Water-ice as a confection is from 1818. Watering-place is mid-15c., of animals, 1757, of persons. Water-lily first attested 1540s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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water down in Medicine

water wa·ter (wô'tər)

  1. A clear, colorless, odorless, and tasteless liquid essential for most plant and animal life and the most widely used of all solvents. Freezing point 0°C (32°F); boiling point 100°C (212°F); specific gravity (4°C) 1.0000; weight per gallon (15°C) 8.338 pounds (3.782 kilograms).

  2. Any of the liquids that are present in or passed out of the body, such as urine, perspiration, tears, or saliva.

  3. The fluid that surrounds a fetus in the uterus; amniotic fluid.

  4. An aqueous solution of a substance, especially a gas.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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water down in Science
A colorless, odorless compound of hydrogen and oxygen. Water covers about three-quarters of the Earth's surface in solid form (ice) and liquid form, and is prevalent in the lower atmosphere in its gaseous form, water vapor. Water is an unusually good solvent for a large variety of substances, and is an essential component of all organisms, being necessary for most biological processes. Unlike most substances, water is less dense as ice than in liquid form; thus, ice floats on liquid water. Water freezes at 0°C (32°F) and boils at 100°C (212°F). Chemical formula: H2O.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Slang definitions & phrases for water down
The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with water down

water down

Dilute or weaken, as in He watered down that unfavorable report with feeble excuses. [ Mid-1800s ]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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